4 ways to make people laugh with your sense of humour

Successful public speaking − whether it's a business presentation, a conference keynote or a toast at a wedding − is all about creating that resonance with your audience, that emotional spark that gets them on board with your words. To this end, there is no greater tool in your arsenal than the judicious and skilful use of humor. Humor breaks through barriers - laughter can transcend age, race, gender, belief or class barriers. It relaxes your audience and puts them in a receptive mood. After you have made them laugh they are more likely to want to listen to you!

Humour alerts your audience to listen. They become more interested in what you're saying that what happened prior to them listening to you or what is going to happen afterwards. It brings your audience into the present. It can enliven potentially dry or dull material and releases tension.

Humor binds people together i.e., humor based on common experience unites the group.
When we laugh, there are no barriers between speaker and audience − not skepticism or cynicism. If someone has made you laugh, chances are you are more open to the speaker and the authority of their words. Yet just because humor is a powerful tool doesn't mean that everyone can wield it proficiently. Have you silently suffered through conferences where a presenter attempted to make a joke, only to elicit groans from the audience?

The key to what makes humor so effective − and how to successfully deploy it − is the psychology of it: Humor is most often used to be playful or poke fun at an otherwise serious − even tragic − situation. At the core of it, using humor in speeches humanizes the speaker. It shows a playful side, as well as a confidence in the matter being presented that is compelling to an audience. Smiling and giving a chuckle to signal that you are joking can help your audience feel empowered to laugh along with you.

To make the most of humor in your next presentation, follow these tips for public speaking.

1. Be Funny, Not a Comedian! 

Don’t be daunted by the lack of a comedy background. A comedian hits the stage with a singular purpose: to make people laugh. To this end, they spend years perfecting jokes, pushing the limits of their audiences and nailing joke delivery. Your job isn't to be George Carlin, Eddie Murphy or Tina Fey and tell the world's funniest jokes. Your purpose is to effectively convey your point or give a presentation, one aided by − but not entirely focused on – humor. Go for humorous anecdotes rather than comic jokes. Comic Jokes demand precision timing and delivery to make them work. Humorous anecdotes are much heartier and offer more leeway in the telling. This makes them a better bet for the non-professional  humorist. You may be a great joke teller, and if so, go right ahead. But try your jokes out on folks beforehand to make sure you won't be the only one laughing when you tell them. 

In this regard, don't worry too much about leaving the audience rolling in the aisles every time you crack a joke. Your jokes serve a different purpose than that of a comedian. 

2. Keeping It Light!

Joke telling is tricky. It is a combination of tone and content that may not come naturally to someone. Traditional "punch line" jokes can be the most difficult, since a single slip or swallowed word can sabotage the joke. Instead, think about using irony and clever wordplay, or even better simply an anecdote that made you laugh, all told with a very light touch.

An example comes from a TED talk given by the film director J. J. Abrams. When talking about a scene in his movie Mission Impossible III, he describes how he had to ask the actor Tom Cruise to shoot a drugged dart up the nose of his character. 

"I quickly learned that there are three things you don't want to do," Abrams told his audience. "Number two is hurt Tom's nose."

It's not the funniest joke ever told, but the effect is profound. It gently pokes fun at the vanity of an immensely powerful actor, positions Abrams in a self-deprecating way and − most importantly − makes the audience laugh along with him. By mastering the mix of content and tone, you can get your audience in your corner by tapping into the visceral power of laughter.

Use jokes not at the expense of the unfortunate or powerless, but rather playfully pointing out the foibles of powerful forces and figures. 
Instead, focus on humor that is light and self-effacing, avoiding controversial topics or mean-spirited laughs. Since you are the one with the microphone, you are in that moment the most "powerful" person in the room, so a little self-deprecation can go a long way. Just don't make it so heavy handed that your audience starts feeling sorry for you. 

3. Humour in its different forms!

In public speaking, the ability to use humor is an important skill to possess whatever your natural ability is. Most people like to smile, to laugh, or to enjoy a listening experience. Humor adds sparkle and interest to a speech. Humor when used should be good willed and not given in a manner to show how witty you are.

It is probably impossible to catalog humor completely. Here are a few kinds of humor you can include in your speech to make it better and involving.

Turn of Phrase :

In this type of humor, you get the laugh by starting to make a serious point in one direction and suddenly an unexpected meaning is revealed. Mark Twain used this technique when he said that “youth is such a wonderful thing, it is shame to waste it on children.”

The Pun :

A word is used to evoke a serious meaning and then used in a completely different meaning altogether. The second meaning gives a whole new viewpoint to the speaker’s remarks. To be funny the meaning should not be stretched too far or it will evoke groans rather than smiles. For example, the organiser of an event may ask a member of the audience if the guest speaker was an able speaker. The member of the audience may reply “Yes, the guest speaker was able. He was able to stand up all the way through his speech.”

Exaggeration :

This is where a small thing is made into a larger important issue. This is similar to the how a cartoonist will exaggerate the features of a politician for effect.

Understatement :

This is the opposite of exaggeration, and words are used to underplay the importance of an event or issue.

Irony :

Here, the face value meaning of the words is different to the intended meaning. An example is the phrase “as pleasant and relaxed as a coiled rattlesnake” used by Kurt Vonnegut in one of his books.

Sarcasm :

Sarcasm is a cutting form of wit and should be used with care. To be funny the audience should not have much sympathy for the intended target. If they do, it will not work in your favor.

Satire :

Satire is an attack upon something worded in a way as to be pleasant but clear in its meaning. Will Rogers at a bankers convention asked “I have often wondered where the Depositor’s hold their convention.”

To be funny, the humor should be said in a spirit of fun. However, for best effect, humor should be unannounced and told with a straight face (you don’t want to laugh before your audience does). It requires more practice and preparation than other parts of your speech. The humor will die if you fumble over words or stumble during the punch line. In public speaking, as it is with conversation, the telling of humor should be effortless and natural.

To be effective in public speaking the humor should be relevant to the points being made. It is woven into the fabric of the speech. 

4. Beginning with a Bang!

A humorous story or a good joke right at the beginning puts the audience at ease and gets their attention. If your topic is dry or serious, but not too serious so that humor would be inappropriate, a dose of humour will be even more appreciated, especially because of the the audience doesn't expect it. 

Here are some ways to get them laughing at the start: 
• If someone will be introducing you by reading your bio, add a funny line to it
• If you have travelled from another city for the speaking engagement, find something funny to say about your travel experiences, the hotel where you're staying, or something similar that most of the audience might relate to
• Use a prop: This can work anytime it's appropriate but is especially welcome in the middle of a talk, when some people begin to lose focus or get sleepy. For example: you can mention something like an "anti-stress emergency kit," and then  immediately whip out items from the kit, including a large foam core board with the Visa and Mastercard images on it, and a foot-long Hershey Bar
• Look for something striking about the room or the event itself to joke about. There may be too-tall centrepieces on the tables that prevent guests from talking to each other across the table and which you think might come in quite handy at your next family reunion. The thermostat in the the room might be set so low that global warming would be a thing of the past. Noticing something funny about the environment that you are sharing with your audience will help warm up the audience to you -- even if the air conditioning is set to "frigid." 

- Kashish Goel

Source: https://mindgrad.com/free-reads/f/4-ways-to-make-people-laugh-with-your-sense-of-humour

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4 ways to make people laugh with your sense of humour 4 ways to make people laugh with your sense of humour Reviewed by EMN on March 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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